Archive for the ‘Webcomics’ Category

Muktuk Wolfsbreath, or why isn’t this a scenario?

One of the comics in my reader is seemingly winding down (though another chapter might start). I consider this a good reason to recommend it to all of you.

The story of Muktuk Wolfsbreath starts when our first person protagonist is approached by a dame (or broad). She has a problem: someone has taken her son. She needs Muktuk to rescue him. He finds out a  nasty fella called Birdbutt is behind it, and demands that she explain how on earth the lady got such a powerful character on her back. But, after a little bit of “persuasion,” Muktuk goes after Birdbutt to get back the lady’s son.

The catch: Muktuk is a Sibirian shaman, and Birdbutt doesn’t have the boy’s body, but his soul.

At the url appropriately titled Terry LaBan has unrolled the tale of Muktuk Wolfsbreath, a travelling, hardboiled shaman-for-hire. The way LaBan transplants the traditional noir hardboiled detective to the Siberian tundra is quite sublime, and makes for great reading – and at 77 pages, it’s not terribly long, either.

It also makes me think the same method can be used in writing roleplaying games or scenarios: take a particular kind of story, move it to a completely unrelated setting, and watch the fun unroll. Sherlock Holmes in the stone age? Sir James of Bond? Why not!


An Avant Garde Webcomic, Hurrah!

I remember reading a little bit of Scott McCloud’s literature on comics (and seeing the TEDtalk). He thought web comics had a huge potential. Instead of just transplanting the daily strips from the newspaper, the artist could utilize the “infinite canvas,” viewing the screen as not a piece of paper but a window, moving the window about to see a story unroll in all directions, embellishing the comic with sounds and animations.

However, so far, Scott McCloud seems to have been one of the many people with overly optimistic ideas about what the WWW would do for us. Instead of leaving print behind and breaking the format of the strip or the page, professional and wanna-be professional web comics seem to be using the web as a means of storing their production, getting feedback, building a fan base and earning a little money from adverts and/or donations, until that bright day when they can publish their productions in a glorious book.

And most of the time, I’m fine with that.

But some of the time, it’s very invigorating to see that it is possible, not just in Scott McClouds mind, but in reality, to do something else. To make something which utilizes the special characteristics of the computer to make something which could not have existed before. Something leaving behind helpful, structuring, but ultimately limiting [1] notion of a sheet of paper behind.

Which is why I was so thrilled to discover the comic “I Am Not An Artist.” It’s a slightly surreal comic, drawn in a very simple, colourful style. In telling its story, however, it makes use of a lot of the opportunities of the computer. It’s laid out on an infinite page, on which the story twists and turns, each panel being accompanied with appropriate sounds and music, and significant panels in the narrative being animated to achieve a certain effect. It’s a relatively quick read, and I wholly recommend taking 15-20 minutes to read through it, if nothing else then to get an idea of what might be in store for us, now that iPads and E-book readers are becoming more and more commonplace.

So, without any more ado:

[1] Just one point: most of the time, limits are good. Nothing is more lethal to creativity than having no boundaries to create within. Of course, “breaking this boundary” can be as productive a boundary as the boundary itself.